In losing 3-2 on Wednesday, most everyone will mention the eighth inning double – no, triple – no wait, inside the park homer – no, double – by Mike Aviles.
They’ll probably omit the attempt to go from first to third by Aviles on a Mark Reynolds error that cost the Royals an out.
The barren wasteland of Royals offense from innings three through seven might be overlooked too. Jake Arrieta ran up his pitch count to 45 after two innings and still managed seven innings. He shut down the Royals in order in five of those innings (facing the minimum in the sixth on a Billy Butler double play after Alex Gordon singled).
And while the Royals didn’t get a break to go their way when Aviles’s shot to the gap lodged under the padding on the left field wall for a ground-rule double, it’s not the reason they lost tonight.
The Royals mustered just five hits all night. They struck out eight times, all at the hands of Arrieta.
They wasted what was a pretty good start by Kyle Davies standards. Davies shook off runs in the first two innings to pitch a decent game, scattering seven hits over 6.1 innings.
After 97 pitches in the first six innings in which Davies walked three and hit two batters, he was sent out for the seventh inning. Of course he proceeded to give up a homer to slumping Nick Markakis. It turned out to be the clinching run.
Davies was able to escape with a quality start despite allowing a runner in every inning but one. The Orioles stranded 11 runners, so holding them to three runs was fortunate.
Jeff Francoeur led off the second inning with his eighth homer of the year. The Royals didn’t get another hit until Gordon’s single in the sixth.
In the last two innings, as they’ve done all year, the Royals rallied to give themselves a shot to win. Alcides Escobar singled and Aviles ripped a line drive to the gap. As it rolled to the warning track, Escobar was on his way home and Aviles had made the turn to third. Adam Jones stopped at the wall and put his hands up, declaring he couldn’t get to it because it was stuck. The umpires made the same call and the ruling sent Aviles to second and Escobar back to third.
It’s a terrible break, and I almost wish there was some discretion in the rule to allow for the progress of the runners. Before Jones got to the ball, Aviles was halfway to third from what I could tell from FSKC’s attempt to sync the hit and the ball on the broadcast. Escobar was on his way home.
Maybe it wouldn’t have made much difference, but with one out and a 3-2 game and a runner on third, maybe Melky Cabrera‘s ground out scores a run. Or perhaps he changes his approach and lifts a fly ball that gets the run in. Maybe the Orioles bring the infield in to cut the run down at the plate and Melky can sneak something through for a hit.
None of that matters right now, as the Royals lost. They got a walk from Francoeur in the ninth and he went to second on a flyout from Wilson Betemit. With a chance to tie the game with a single, Kila Ka’aihue hit a lazy fly ball to right to end the game.
Nate Adcock pitched 2.1 strong innings and showed great movement with his sinker. He now has a 2.02 ERA in 13.1 innings.
Obviously, the Royals can’t win them all. It feels like, despite weak hitting up and down the lineup, they had a shot at this one. One weird bounce made the difference.
I want to complain about the ruling, but if the situation was reversed and Melky Cabrera were making the quick decision to throw his arms up, he’d look just as cagey as Adam Jones does for making the play (or…not making it). It happened, it stunk, and that’s all there is to it.